Hundreds of millennials from across the city are scheduled to gather at The Workshop inside BOK, 1901 S. Ninth St., next Tuesday, Dec. 20, to discuss issues such as poverty, gentrification and education.
Philly Set Go, a political action committee, is hosting the salon-style, sold-out discussion. The committee was started a year and a half ago to get people between the ages of 18-35 more involved in local politics.
Gabriela Guaracao, Philly Set Go co-founder, said she hopes next week’s event will help create a collaborative atmosphere among young Philadelphians.
“There is no shortage of millennials with opinions,” Guaracao said. “We want to translate their opinions into action in terms of votes and creating relationships with elected officials.”
This is the first time Philly Set Go has hosted an event that will be salon-style, an arrangement that rose to popularity in 17th and 18th century France. During a salon, people would gather around a host and share ideas. Next week’s host is Tom Wyatt, a former city council candidate and education advocate.
“This presidential election created momentum in the sense that millennials on the sidelines suddenly were passionate about being more involved,” Guaracao said.
She started off as a person with opinions in Philadelphia, who felt the local government needed to do more.
“As a citizen, I felt it was my responsibility to play a part in the political process,” she said. Working with millennials for more than a year, she understands how some people feel afraid or unsure how to get involved.
“Millennials are the largest registered voter group in Philadelphia county, but there’s a disconnect,” she said. “They feel like it’s difficult to engage with their political leaders, or they don’t know how.”
Through Philly Set Go, millennials who want to make a difference are connected with local leaders. Local leaders are connected with the young people from whom they rarely hear.
The location of the 21st Century salon is not lost on Guaracao.
Millennials will be talking about education issues within the same building that was shuttered by the School Reform Commission in 2013.
Previously, the Bok Vocational School provided training to many generations of Philadelphians in subjects such as nursing, construction and the beauty business. The school provided a valuable resource to working class people without a college education in the area.
Bok is now a commercial property that hosts both tenants and retailers. The building’s website states 80 percent of the residents are from South Philadelphia.
Residents include fashion designers, architects and other artists operate in the building’s old classrooms. Guaracao said the building speaks to the transformation of certain parts of the city.
Guaracao said the huge turnout has encouraged Philly Set Go to host similar events in the future, helping millennials turn their opinions into action.
“We need to be interconnected with each other in different neighborhoods and understand the plights of others,” she said.